ST. GEORGE – Hope Pregnancy Care Center will hold its 10th annual fundraising banquet, “Be a Life Preserver,” at the Dixie Center in St. George Saturday, Feb. 28, beginning at 5 p.m. Table sponsors are needed for the event, and the deadline for reservations is Monday. Funds raised will be used to support the life-affirming help offered at Hope Pregnancy Care Center.
The evening will begin with a variety-filled silent auction, followed by a buffet dinner and plenty of time for socializing.
The keynote speaker will be Jeffrey Dean, an ordained pastor, radio host and author. Over the last 20 years, Dean has spoken to more than 3 million individuals at churches, conferences, prisons and public schools throughout the United States.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center was founded by Merry Jo Cook, a retired high school teacher, Hope Pregnancy Care Center Director Jessica Blevins said. During Cook’s tenure as a teacher, she saw several teens struggle through unplanned pregnancies. Her desire was to find a way to provide young men and women with a place where they could make informed and practical decisions regarding their unplanned pregnancies.
In 2003, Cook formed a steering committee of men and women with similar passions, and the group started meeting together, planning, raising funds and raising awareness for an unmet need in Washington County.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center opened its doors in the summer of 2005. In its early years, Hope offered free pregnancy tests. Clients were offered information regarding options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Detailed information was given on parenting, placing a child for adoption and choosing abortion.
Before long, it was evident that Hope’s clients needed much more than just information. They needed more practical support in the form of material goods, referrals for medical and financial needs, and long-term emotional support, Blevins said.
As the needs of clients became more and more apparent, programs were developed to meet those needs.
Hope Pregnancy Care Center is not a medical facility and does not offer or make referrals for contraceptives or abortion services.
One of the rooms at Hope was transformed into a baby boutique so clients could get maternity clothes, baby clothes and diapers. To stock the boutique, groups and individuals have held “baby showers” for Hope.
Earn while you learn
Sometimes, clients who come to Hope feel uncomfortable accepting “charity” from the center, Blevins said, so staff and volunteers created a program where clients can earn “mommy money” to shop in the boutique.
Clients come to the center on a weekly basis to watch a series of videos in order to earn their mommy money. The curriculum includes lessons on breastfeeding, giving birth, parenting skills, budgeting and a variety of other topics.
It soon became clear that Hope was meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of moms and their babies, but one important piece of the puzzle was missing: Husbands, boyfriends and fathers also have needs. Hope now has male client advocates who can meet with men who need a mentor as they face the pressures of fatherhood. Men can also earn “daddy dollars” to shop in the boutique.
Some clients who come into Hope have previously had abortions. Some of those clients express that they are struggling with having made the decision and need emotional support in dealing with it.
“It’s true that some people experience trauma after an abortion,” Blevins said. “This is a safe place to process that loss.”
“Post Abortion Counseling and Education,” or PACE, was born out of that need to address the emotional struggles these women face. Hope now offers help in the form of group or one-on-one mentoring provided by women who have also struggled with their own abortion decisions.
In the past 10 years, Hope Pregnancy Care Center has seen more than 1,100 clients. Since 2010, volunteers have given out over 76,000 diapers. When a client comes in for a free pregnancy test and requests assistance, she can continue receiving help in the form of mentoring, education and material needs throughout her pregnancy and until her baby is 1 year old.
Staff and volunteers
Hope Pregnancy Care Center is affiliated with CareNet and employs one full-time and four part-time staff members. CareNet provides ongoing training for the staff and volunteers who help keep the center running. A board of directors also oversees the nondaily aspects of the organization.
Client advocate volunteers go through a rigorous initial training program and receive updated training regularly.
Hope’s budget comes primarily from donations. Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so all donations are tax deductible. Donations are received from generous monthly supporters, one-time donations made at the annual fundraising banquet, and profits received from The Hope Chest, a thrift store primarily dedicated to supporting the needs of Hope.
Last year’s banquet was attended by nearly 500 people. Banquet coordinators are looking for individuals, groups or organizations interested in sponsoring a table. Individual tickets are also available. Reservations must be made in advance. The deadline for reservations is Monday. Dress for the event is classified as “classy casual.” For more information, call 435-656-5331.
- What: “Be a Life Preserver” fundraising banquet
- When: Saturday, Feb. 28, 5-8 p.m.
- Where: Dixie Center, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George
- Tickets: Single reservations and table sponsorship deadline is Monday, Feb. 16 | Table sponsorship form
- Parking info: Public self-parking is at the north end of the Dixie Center, behind – east of – the Hilton Garden Inn.
- Details: 435-656-5331 | Hope Pregnancy Care Center website
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